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Myth: Sex Workers cannot be victims of sexual violence, abuse or rape

Myth: Sex Workers cannot be victims of sexual violence, abuse or rape

2 February, 2017
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In this series of blogs, we expose some of the myths that surround sexual abuse and sexual violence. The series is part of National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

The aim is to highlight how damaging these myths can be and how important it is to raise awareness of sexual abuse and sexual violence to both prevent and effectively respond to victims and survivors. IDAS employ Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) who support survivors with both practical guidance and emotional support. These accounts are based on real life events; however, some details have been changed to preserve the anonymity of the survivors. The content of the blogs may be upsetting for some people as they depict the circumstances of the violence or abuse experienced by the survivor as they recall it. The survivors have given their permission for these accounts to be published to help dispel the myths.

This account outlines the experience of a Sex Worker (who has also referred to herself as a Prostitute) who is raped by someone posing as a paying client.

"You hear it all the time, prostitutes can’t be raped, it’s their job, they’re asking for it, it’s what they are paid to do..."

"I am a former prostitute and I was raped."

"Don’t get me wrong, I was approached in the Red Light District as if he were any other client so you could say I exposed myself to the risk, but that’s why you always agree your terms and fee before you go off with the male. I had two key rules: no anal sex and no kissing. This time I was approached and we agreed I would be paid £60 to give him oral and vaginal sex."

"A car park nearby was under construction and soon became the place where all the girls went, I suppose we felt safer that way. As I was leading the male there I started feeling very uneasy so I turned, he held a knife to my throat. I tried to run but he slashed my back with the blade. Seven years on and I still have the scar."

"I thought I was going to die. Fearing for my life I submitted to him..."

"After 45 long minutes of begging I finally managed to persuade him another girl would be coming with a client so he stopped."

"I ran away as fast as I could and didn’t look back. I felt dirty and confused. As I ran, I came across a police car and reported what had happened. A week later the male was arrested by the police and it came out that he had done this to another six sex workers. However, due to fear of reporting only one other person came forward and together we proceeded through the court system."

"The court case was horrendous as the defence barrister suggested that I agreed to all the sexual activity that had taken place and that it was my fault for being a prostitute. Thankfully, the jury saw through this and found the male guilty."

"Yes, I was a prostitute who exchanged money for sexual activity but anything outside of the agreement or a failure to pay is rape. I was raped."

Forcing or coercing someone to perform sexual activity under the threat of violence or through physical force is rape. Consent can be given and then withdrawn at any point.

Further reading:

Sexual offences Act

National Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week

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